24 Jul 2012

Solomons NGO warns cocoa farmers to secure employee numbers

2:17 pm on 24 July 2012

An advisor to the Solomon Islands Development Trust says cocoa farmers must be wise about ensuring they have sufficient workers before expanding their plantations.

Cocoa farmers are being encouraged by the Ministry of Agriculture to increase their crops as part of its plans to double the country's cocoa output by 2014 and triple it by 2017.

The advisor to the NGO, John Roughan, says farmers need to look seriously at their labour market if they are looking at growing more crops, rather than presuming their family will be there to do the work.

"And what usually happens, they take for granted that, I'm thinking especially of the women, that it's a good labour market. But already the women are over committed in their work schedule. They have families to raise, they have cooking, cleaning and caring for the children and the older people who are probably living with them. So their ability to get out into the fields on a sustained regular basis is going to be limited."

John Roughan says the price of cocoa is better than copra and this will attract more farmers to the sector.